What Am I Looking For – Osho

What am I looking for? 

Deva Parmita, man is a search for the self – not for A self but for THE self. Man is constantly seeking the lost paradise: somewhere deep in the recesses of human beings, the nostalgia persists. We have known something that is only a far faraway memory. The memory is not even conscious; we have lost all track of it, where it is. But the fragrance goes on arising.

Hence religion is not an accidental phenomenon. It is not going to disappear from the world; no communism, no fascism can make it disappear. Religion is going to remain, because it is very essential. Unless a man surpasses humanity, unless a man becomes a Buddha, religion remains relevant. Only for a Buddha is religion irrelevant. He has arrived: now there is no need for any search.

Parmita, there are not different searches for different human beings. The search is singular, it is one, it is universal. The search is for the self, the supreme self. One wants to know, “Who am I?” because everything else is secondary. Without knowing oneself, whatsoever one is doing is pointless. Unless I know exactly who I am, my whole life is going to remain futile. It will not bring fruition, it will not bring flowering, it will not bring fulfillment.

The first step has to be that of self-knowledge. But the paradox is that if you start searching for A self you will miss THE self. By “a self” I mean the ego, the process of egoing. That is a false self: because we cannot find the true, we start creating the false, just to console ourselves. It is a substitute. But the substitute can never become the truth, and the substitute becomes a bondage.

Truth liberates. Substitutes for truth create prisons. The ego is the greatest prison that man has yet invented; you are all feeling suffocated, crushed. It is not that somebody else is doing it to you: you are the doer of it. You have taken a wrong step. Rather than searching for that which is, you have started substituting something for it – a toy, a pseudo thing. It may console you, but it cannot bring celebration to your life. And all consolation is suicidal, because while you remain consoled, time goes on slipping out of your hands.

THE self is not A self. The self is exactly a no-self: there is no idea of ‘I’ in it, it is universal. All ideas arise in it, but it cannot be identified with any idea that arises in it. All ideas arise in it, all ideas dissolve in it. It is the sky, the context of all contexts, it is the space in which everything happens. But the space itself never happens – it abides, it is always there, and because it is always there, it is easy to miss it. Because it is so much there and always there, you never become aware of its presence.

It is like the air: you don’t become aware of its presence. It is like the ocean that surrounds the fish: the fish never becomes aware of it. It is like the pressure of the air: the pressure is so much, it has always been there, but you are not aware of it. It is like gravitation: it is so much, but you are not aware of it. It is like the earth rushing with great speed round and round the sun: the earth is a spaceship, but nobody is aware of it. We are aboard a spaceship, and it is going at a great speed. Still we are not aware of it.

Awareness needs some gaps. When there are no gaps you fall asleep; you cannot remain aware.

If one has always been healthy, one will not be aware of health. Awareness needs gaps – sometimes you should not be healthy. You should fall ill, then you can have a sense of health. If there was no darkness in the world and there was only light, nobody would have ever known light; people would have missed it.

That’s how we go on missing the original self – you can call it God or nirvana, it doesn’t matter. Sufis have two beautiful words. One is fana: fana means dissolving the ego, dissolving the false substitute. And the other word is baqa: baqa means the arrival, the arising, of the real self.

The real self is universal. How to find it? It is not far away, so you are not to make a long journey to it. It is so close that no journey is needed at all. It is within you. Rather than journeying, you will have to learn how to sit silently.

That’s what meditation is all about – just sitting silently doing nothing. Thoughts arise: you watch. Desires arise: you watch. But you remain the watcher. You don’t become a victim of the desires and the thoughts that are arising; you remain a watcher. You remain the context of all contexts, you remain the space before which everything appears. But the space never appears before itself – it cannot, it is impossible.

The mirror cannot mirror itself, the eyes cannot see themselves. I cannot catch hold of my hand with the same hand; it is impossible.

This is the most fundamental thing to remember, Parmita. You are the watcher and never the watched, you are the observer and never the observed, you are the witness and never the witnessed. You are pure subjectivity. You never appear as an object – how can you appear as an object in front of yourself? Whatsoever appears in front of you is not you.

Go on eliminating the contents. Go on saying, “Neti neti, I am not this, I am not this.” Go on eliminating, and a moment comes when there is nothing left to eliminate. There is pure silence: no content moves in front of you, the mirror reflects nothing. That is the moment when self-knowing arises in you. You become illumined, you are enlightened.

So these few fundamentals are to be remembered: the self is a no-self. The self is not personal, it is universal. The self is the space or context in which all “positionality” in life appears, occurs, arises. It is the screen of life, but the screen itself never appears on the screen, it cannot. Everything else appears on it, it itself remains hidden. It is pure subjectivity.

This pure subjectivity is the ultimate goal everybody is searching for. But it seems difficult. We are so prone to become identified with the contents. So rather than searching for the real, we create something unreal, which is easy. The artificial is always easy, you can manufacture it.

Your ego is a manufactured phenomenon. And once you have manufactured the ego…

How is the ego manufactured? “I am a Hindu”: now you are on the way to creating an ego. “I am beautiful, I am intelligent, I am this, I am that” – you are bringing more and more bricks to make the prison called ego.

And this is what we go on doing in our whole life. Earn more money, have a bigger bank balance, and your ego will feel more grounded, more supported, more secure. Become famous: the more people know about you, the more you will think you are.

Hence the constant search for attention. If nobody pays any attention to you, you are reduced to nothing. If you move on the street and nobody says hello, people go on passing by, not even taking any note of you, suddenly you start feeling the earth disappearing underneath your feet. What has happened? They are not feeding your ego. But people feed each other’s egos, because that’s how THEY can be fed. Somebody says, “How are you?” He is really saying, “Ask ME, ‘How are you?’” He is simply asking for mutual gratification. And people do gratify each other; we support each other’s egos: somebody praises you, you praise him in return.

That’s what we call society. It depends on mutual satisfactions, and the greatest satisfaction seems to be ego-gratification.

Hence people are interested so much in politics, because politics can gratify you as nothing else can. If you become politically powerful the whole country is in your grip; the whole country has to pay attention to you. You can impose your will on people, you have power.

The power of a politician is the power of violence. Now he controls the whole mechanism of violence: he controls the police, the government, the military, he controls everything. He can impose his will on you. That’s why politicians tend to become violent sooner or later. Politicians hanker deep down for wars, because it is only in war that a politician becomes a great politician. If you go through history you will see the point.

Winston Churchill would not have been such a great leader if there had been no second world war. Neither would Adolf Hitler have been such a power if there had been no second world war, not would Mussolini. The war created the context: they were able to be as violent as possible. They were able to butcher people, to murder people, in millions.

People immediately pay attention when you are violent. If you live a peaceful life, no newspaper is going to report about you in your whole life. But if you kill somebody or you commit suicide, you will be immediately in the newspapers.

Just a few days ago, Reverend Jones committed suicide with all of his nine hundred disciples. You had never heard about this poor man before, nobody knew that there was anybody like that. Now the whole world knows.

They had lived in that commune for many years, but nobody would take any note of them. It is possible that had you taken note of them, they might not have needed to go to such an extreme, they might not have committed suicide. This is his way of making the whole world feel his presence – this is a very pathological way, ugly, but this is the same phenomenon again. People are searching for the ego: if they cannot find it through being creative, they will find it through being destructive. If they cannot find it by being a great saint, they will find it by being a great sinner.

Somebody asked George Bernard Shaw, “Where would you like to go when you die – to heaven or to hell?” He said, “It all depends.”

The man said, “What do you mean, ‘It all depends’?”

He said, “If I am going to be the first in heaven, then to heaven. If I am going to be second there, no. Then it is better to be in hell but be first.”

He is joking, but he is telling a truth – a truth about you, a truth about the whole humanity, the way it lives through ambition, through egoing.

Remember, the real self has nothing to do with anybody else paying attention to you. Note the difference: the false self needs others’ attention to be paid to you, and the real self only needs your attention – just your attention, and that’s enough.

If you turn your attention inwards, you will know the real self. If you go on seeking others’ attention, you will continuously live in a false entity which is always ready to disappear if you don’t feed it continuously. It has to be supported.

The ego is not an entity. It is not a noun, it is a verb. That’s why I am saying it is egoing. You cannot remain satisfied with any attention paid to you, you have to ask and hanker for more. You have to go on egoing; it is only through egoing that the ego can exist. It is a process – and it is so false and its demands are so ugly! It is a lie. It demands more and more lies from you, and to gratify it you have to become utterly false. You have to become a personality.

A personality means a false phenomenon, a mask. You have to become an actor; you are no longer a real person, you are no longer authentic. You don’t have any substance, you are just a shadow. And because of this shadow there is always fear of death, because any moment this shadow can disappear.

Your bank can go bankrupt, and immediately you are gone, you are nobody. Your power can be lost, because there are other competitors pushing you. This whole life is a constant pushing and pulling, hence there is so much agony.

Do you know the root of the word agony? It comes from ag: ag means pushing. You are continuously being pushed, and in your turn you are pushing others; that creates agony.

The whole world lives in anguish and agony. Only the person who comes to know his real self goes beyond it and enters into the world of ecstasy. And there are the two states: agony and ecstasy.

Parmita, you are in agony, as everybody else is. And the search is for ecstasy. Remember always, your commitments, your ideologies, your so-called ultimate values, your theologies, philosophies and religions provide contexts, often valuable contexts, for individual existence. But they are not what you are.

You are not even your body. You are not your mind. You are neither black nor white, you are neither Indian nor German. You cannot be defined in any way, all definitions will fall short. You are indefinable; you are something that surpasses all definitions. You are the vast sky in which planets appear and earths appear, and sun and moon and stars – and they all disappear, and the sky remains as it has remained always. The sky knows no change. You are that unchanging sky. Clouds come and go, you are always here.

When Raman Maharshi was dying, somebody asked, “Bhagwan, soon you will be leaving your body; where will you go?” He opened his eyes, laughed and said, “Where can I go? I have been here, I will be here. Where can I go – WHERE? There is nowhere to go. I am everywhere: I have been here and I will remain here for ever and ever.”

He is saying that he has come to know his being as the sky; he is no longer a cloud.

If you really want to search for the real self, don’t get attached to any commitment, to any program, to any idea. Remain unattached, flexible, fluid; don’t become stagnant. Always remain in a state of unfrozenness; don’t freeze. The moment you freeze, you have something false in your hands; a cloud has arisen. Remain in a state of meltedness, don’t become committed to any form or name. And then something tremendous starts happening to you: for the first time you start feeling who you are.

The feeling does not come from the outside, it arises from the inner depths of your being. It floods you. It is light, utter light, it is bliss, utter bliss. It is divine. It is another name for God.

Never become crystallized; if you become crystallized in something, you are encaged. Remain free, remain freedom. All identity creates fixation; and every fixation, every identification, is a liability. The more fixed one’s identity, the less the experience of which one is capable. The point is not to lack a position, but not to be positional.

I am not saying to become unthinking. Remain intelligent, capable of thinking, but never get identified with any thought. Use the thought as a tool, as an instrument; remember that you are the master.

Not to be attached to whatever position one has at any particular moment is the beginning of self-knowledge. One IS, one experiences aliveness, to the extent to which one can transcend particular positions and can assume other viewpoints.

That’s what I mean by remaining fluid, flowing. One should remain available to the present. Die to the past each moment, so that nothing about you remains fixed. Don’t carry a character around yourself; all characters are armors, imprisonments.

The real man of character is characterless – you will be surprised by this. The real man of character is characterless: he has consciousness, but he has no character. He lives moment to moment. Responsible he is, but he responds out of the moment, not out of past contexts. He carries no ready-made programs in his being. The more you have ready-made programs, the more you are an ego. When you have none – no programs, nothing ready-made in you – when each moment you are as fresh as if you are born anew, to me that is freedom. And only a free consciousness can know the true self.

This is the search, Parmita. Nothing else will ever satisfy, nothing else can ever satisfy. All are consolations – and it is better to drop them, it is better to become aware that consolations are not going to help.

This is what I call sannyas: dropping consolations, renouncing consolations – not the world but consolations – renouncing all that is false, becoming true, becoming simple, natural, spontaneous. That’s my vision of a sannyasin, the vision of total freedom.

And in those beautiful moments of total freedom, the first rays of light enter you, the first glimpses of who you are. And the grandeur of it is such, and the splendor of it is such, that you will be surprised to find that you have been carrying the kingdom of God within you and you have remained so unaware, and for so long. You will be surprised that it was possible not to know such a treasure. Such an inexhaustible treasure is within you.

Jesus goes on repeating again and again, “The kingdom of God is within you.” Call it the kingdom of God or the supreme self or nirvana or whatever you will, that is our search – everyone’s, not only of human beings but of all beings. Even trees are growing towards it, even birds are searching for it, even rivers are rushing towards it. The whole existence is an adventure.

And that is the beauty of this existence. If it was not an adventure, life would be absolute boredom. Life is a celebration because it is an adventure.


From Unio Mystica, V.2, Chapter Two

Copyright© OSHO International Foundation

Unio Mystica, V.2

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Ego and the Self – Osho

In the west I was trained as a social worker. I was taught that it is important that a person respects and loves himself and feels worthwhile. I was taught that it is important to give support to help strengthen the ego. You say kill the ego. I am confused.

Prem Aradhana, the ego is needed because the true self is not known. The ego is a substitute, it is a pseudo entity. Because you don’t know yourself you have to create an artificial center; otherwise functioning in life will be impossible. Because you don’t know your real face, you have to wear a mask. Not knowing the essential, you have to trust in the shadow.

There are only two ways of living in life. One is to live it from the very core of your being — that has been the way of the mystics. Meditation is nothing but a device to make you aware of your real self — which is not created by you, which need not be created by you, which you already are. You are born with it, you ARE it! It needs to be discovered. If this is not possible, or if the society does not allow it to happen…and no society allows it to happen, because the real self is dangerous — dangerous for the established church, dangerous for the state, dangerous for the crowd, dangerous for the tradition — because once a man knows his real self, he becomes an individual. He no longer belongs to the mob psychology; he will not be superstitious, and he cannot be exploited. He cannot be led like cattle, he cannot be ordered and commanded. He will live according to his light, he will live from his own inwardness. His life will have tremendous beauty, integrity. But that is the fear of the society.

Integrated persons become individuals, and the society wants you to be non-individuals. Instead of individuality, the society teaches you to be a personality. The word ‘personality’ has to be understood. It comes from a root, ‘persona’ — persona means a mask. The society gives you a false idea of who you are; it gives you just a toy, and you go on clinging to the toy your whole life.

The one way is to live through meditation — then you live a life of rebellion, of adventure, of courage. Then you really live! The other way to live, or to fake living, is the way of the ego — strengthen the ego, nourish the ego; so that you need not look into the self, cling to the ego. The ego is an artifact created by the society to deceive you, to distract you.

The ego is man-made, manufactured by us. And because it is manufactured by the society, society has power over it. Because it is manufactured by the state and the church, and those who are in power, they can destroy it any moment; it depends on them. You have to be constantly in fear, and you have to be constantly obeying them, conforming to them, so that your ego remains intact. The society gives you respect if you are not an individual. The society honors you if you are not a Jesus, not a Socrates, not a Buddha. It respects you only if you are a sheep, not a man.

The West has completely forgotten how to meditate — and Christianity has been the reason. Christianity has created a very false religion, which knows nothing of meditation. Christianity is very formal; it is a ritual. It is part of the society and the political structure of the society. Karl Marx is perfectly right about it, that it is the opium of the people. Because of Christianity, the West has lost track of its own being. And one cannot live without SOME idea of one’s self — and if you cannot discover, then create something. It will be false, but something is better than nothing.

Aradhana, what you have been told is utter nonsense. It does not matter who has been telling it — the universities, the politicians, the priests. Certainly, you will be feeling confused, because I am telling you just the opposite: I am telling you to get rid of the ego, because if you get rid of the ego, you get rid of the rock that is preventing the flow of your consciousness.

Your consciousness is there, just behind the rock; it has not to be brought from somewhere else. Remove the rock — real religion consists only of removing that which is unnecessary, and then the necessary starts flowing. That which is unessential has to be removed. And the essential is already there, is already the case! You remove the rock and you will be surprised: you need not create the real self — it reveals itself to you.

And the real has beauty, and the real is deathless. Because it is deathless it has no fear. The unreal is constantly trembling. The ego is always in danger — anybody can destroy it. Because it has been given to you by others, they can take it back. Today they respect you, tomorrow they may not respect you. If you don’t follow their idea of life, if you don’t confirm their style of being, they will withdraw their respect. And you will be flat on the ground…and you will not know who you are.

Borges writes:

“I dreamt that I was awakening from another dream — full of cataclysms and turmoil — and that I was waking up in a room which I did not recognize. Dawn was breaking: a faint diffused light outlined the foot of the iron bedstead, the table. I thought fearfully ‘Where am I?’ and realized that I did not know. I thought ‘Who am I?’ and I could not recognize myself. Fear grew within me. I thought, ‘This distressing awakening is already hell, this awakening without a future will be my eternity.’ Then I really awoke, trembling.”

Not to know oneself, to know one’s destiny, that’s certainly real hell. And man does not know himself. Now, the cheaper way is to create the ego, and the West has been following the cheaper way. And not only the West: the majority of people in the East, too, have been doing the same. Just leave a few enlightened people aside, and the whole world has been doing the same.

The West consists of ninety-nine point nine percent of the people in the world; the East consists of only a few people, they can be counted on the fingers. To me, the East and the West are not geographical — they are spiritual dimensions. Gautam Buddha, Lao Tzu, Zarathustra, Abraham, Moses, Christ, Saint Francis — the East consists of these people. Where they were born is immaterial, is irrelevant. Certainly Saint Francis was not born in the East, but I count him as part of the East.

The spiritual dimension, the dimension where the inner sun rises, is the East. And the dark night of the soul, which knows nothing of the sunrise, is the West. You don’t become religious just by being born in India. Religion is not that cheap. It is the costliest thing in existence, because it is the most precious. There is no shortcut to it, and those who seek shortcuts are bound to be deceived by somebody. They will be given toys, and you can go on believing in toys because you don’t want to risk an adventure into the unknown.

The greatest unknown exists within you. The most uncharted sea is your consciousness, and the most dangerous too, because when you start moving inwards, you start falling into an emptiness, and great fear arises, the fear of going mad, the fear of losing your identity. …Because you have known yourself as a name, you have known yourself as a particular person — you have known yourself as a doctor, as an engineer, as a businessman; you have known yourself as an Indian, a German, a Chinese; you have known yourself as black or white; you have known yourself as man or woman; you have known yourself as educated or uneducated — all these categories start disappearing.

As you move inwards, you are neither man nor woman: neti, neti — neither this nor that, neither white nor black, neither Hindu nor Mohammedan, neither Indian nor Pakistani. As you move inwards, all these categories start slipping out of your hands. Then who are you? You start losing track of your ego, and a great fear arises — the fear of nothingness. You are falling into infinity. Who knows whether you will be able to come back or not? And who knows what is going to be the outcome of this exploration? The coward clings to the shore and forgets all about the sea. That’s what is happening all over the world. People cling to the ego because ego gives you a certain idea of who you are, gives you a certain clarity. But the ego is false, and the clarity is false.

It is better to be confused with reality than to be clear with unreality.

Aradhana, you are right: with me a great confusion is bound to happen — because all your knowledge, slowly, slowly, will be proved simple ignorance and nothing else. Hiding behind your knowledge is your ignorance. Hiding behind your cleverness is your stupid mind. And behind the ego there is nothing — it is a shadow.

Once this becomes clear to you, that you have been clinging to the shadow, a great fear and a great confusion, a great chaos is bound to happen. But out of the chaos stars are born. One has to pass through such chaos — that is part of spiritual growth. You have to lose the false to get to the real. But between the two there will be an interval when the false will be gone and the true will not yet have arrived. Those are the moments, the most critical moments…these are the moments when you need a master or a friend.

Just the other day, Buddha was saying, “A master or a friend is needed.” These are the moments when you will need somebody’s hand who can hold you, who can support you, who can say, “Don’t be afraid. This emptiness is going to disappear. Soon you will be overflowing — just a little more waiting, a little more patience.” The master cannot give you anything, but he can give you courage. He can give you his hand in those critical moments when your mind would like to go back, to turn back, to cling again to the shore.

The joy of the master, his confidence, his authority…remember, when I say “his authority” I don’t mean that a master is authoritarian. A master is never authoritarian, but he has authority, because he is a witness to his own self. He knows about the other shore, he has been to the other shore. You have only heard about the other shore, you have read about it; you know only about this shore, and the comfort and the security, and the safety of this shore. And when the storms rage and when you start losing sight of this shore, and you are not able to see the other shore, your mind will say, “Go back! Go back as fast as possible! The old shore is disappearing and the new is not appearing. Maybe there is nothing on the other shore, maybe there is no other shore at all. And the storm is great!”

In those moments, if you are with a master, and somebody is sitting in the boat silent, utterly calm and quiet, laughing and saying, “Don’t be worried,” playing on his flute, or singing a song, or telling you a joke, and he says, “Don’t be worried. The other shore is — I know, I have been there. Just a little patience….” Looking into his eyes…in his absolute confidence will be the only help. Seeing his calmness, quietness, his integrity…. He is not looking back, he is not afraid: he must have seen the other shore, he must have been there. His whole being says it, his whole being proves it. And when he holds your hand you can feel that his hand is not trembling; you can feel that whatsoever he is saying he is saying out of his own experience, not because it is written in the Bible, in the Gita, in The Dhammapada. He knows it on his own! — That is his authority.

Once his confidence, his trust, becomes contagious to you, you will also start laughing. Of course, your laughter will have a little nervousness in it, but you will start laughing. You may start singing with him, maybe just to avoid fear, just as people whistle in the dark. You may join in his dance, just to forget all about what is happening. You don’t want to see the storm that surrounds you, and you don’t want to remember the past and you don’t want to think about the future. It seems dark and dismal to you. You may join in his dance…. Dancing with him, even if out of fear, singing with him even though your singing is bound to be nervous, laughing with him although your laughter is not total, the storm will soon be passed. The deeper your patience, the sooner it happens — you will be able to see the other shore, because when the eyes are not troubled, when the eyes are not full of fear, they become perceptive. A seeing arises in you — you become a seer.

The other shore is not far away; just your eyes are so full of smoke that you cannot see. In fact, this very shore IS the other shore. If your eyes are clear, if your perception is not clouded, if your insight has arisen in your being, if you can see and hear, this very shore is the other shore. When one knows, one really laughs at the whole ridiculousness of life — because we have already got that for which we are longing. The treasure is with us, and we are running hither and thither.

The ego has not to be created, because you have the supreme self within you.

But I can understand your confusion. Remain confused. Don’t go back to your old clarity — it is deceptive. Be in this confusion, be with me a little while more, and soon the confusion will disperse and disappear. And then comes a totally new kind of clarity.

There are two kinds of clarity — one, which is simply intellectual, which any moment can be taken away, doubt can be created any moment…. Intellect is full of doubt. Whatsoever you had heard and whatsoever you had been told has been taken away so easily by me; it was not of much value. Your whole life’s training, and I have taken the earth from underneath your feet so easily…and you are confused. What value can such clarity have? If I can confuse you so easily, that means it was not real clarity. I will give you a new kind of clarity which cannot be confused.

Once a great philosopher went to see Ramakrishna. The philosopher argued against God, and he argued really well. His name was Keshav Chandra Sen. Ramakrishna was utterly illiterate; he knew nothing of philosophy, he had never been to the university, he had only read up to the second standard. He could write and read Bengali a little bit.

The philosopher was well educated, world famous, he had written many books. He argued, and Ramakrishna laughed. And each time the philosopher gave a beautiful, profound argument against God, Ramakrishna would jump and hug him. A great crowd had gathered to see the scene, what was happening. The philosopher was very much embarrassed, because he had come to argue, and what kind of argument is this? This man laughs, dances — sometimes hugs.

The philosopher said, “Are you not disturbed by my arguments?”

Ramakrishna said, “How can I be disturbed? I am really enjoying your arguments. You are clever, you are intelligent, your arguments are beautiful — but what can I do? I know God! It is not a question of argument; it is not that I believe in God. Had I believed, you would have disturbed me, you would have taken all my clarity and you would have confused me. But I know he is!”

If you know, you know — there is no way of distracting you. I will give you that kind of clarity — which knows, and is not dependent on any argument but arises out of existential experience. Then you need not be taught to respect yourself or love yourself or feel worthwhile. Knowing oneself, one knows one is God. Now what more respect can you give to yourself? When this experience arises in you — “Aham Brahasmi! I am God!” — What more respect can you give to yourself?

And who is there to give respect? Only God is. When in the deepest recesses of your being the realization happens: “Ana’l Haq! — I am truth!” what more worthwhileness do you need to feel? You have come to the ultimate, and you have come to know the ultimate as your innermost being, your interiority.

Yes, you have been told to be respectful to yourself because you don’t know who you are. You have been told to feel worthwhile because you feel worthless. You have been told to love yourself because you hate yourself. And the strange thing is, the irony is, that it is the same people who have been doing both things to you.

The same people first make you feel worthless; this is the trade secret of all the churches, of all the so-called religions, of all political ideologies, of all societies, civilizations and cultures that have existed up to now. This is the trade secret: first they make you feel worthless — every child is made to feel worthless. He is told, “Unless you become this or that, you have no worth.” When he starts feeling worthless, than we start telling him, “Feel worthwhile, feel some worth. If you cannot feel worthwhile, your life is wasted.”

First we tell him to hate himself and condemn himself; everything that he does is wrong, hence he starts hating himself because he is not a beautiful person. The parents, the teachers, the priests, they are all joined in the conspiracy. Every child is reduced to such a condemnable state that he starts feeling, “I must be the ugliest person in the world, because I do things that should not be done, and I don’t do things which should be done.” And then one day we start telling the child, “Why don’t you love yourself? Otherwise, how will you survive?”

We take all respect away from the child, and when he becomes disrespectful towards himself we start telling him to create respect. This is such an absurd situation! Each child is born with great respect for himself. Each child knows his worth, his intrinsic worth. He is not worthy because he is like Buddha or Krishna or Christ — he simply knows he has worth because he is, he has being. That’s enough! And each child loves himself, respects himself.

It is you who teach him just the opposite. First you destroy all that is beautiful in him, and then you start painting a false picture. Destroy the natural beauty and then paint his face, make him absolutely false. But why is this done? — because only false people can be slaves, only false people can follow the stupid politicians, only false people can be victims of utterly ignorant priests. If people are real, they cannot be exploited and cannot be oppressed.

Aradhana, remain confused — it is good. It is good that you have come to this point where a great confusion has arisen in you. You can no longer trust your ego — good! It is tremendously important, because now a second step becomes possible. I will give you your childhood back, your inner worth, which is not a created phenomenon; your natural love, which is not cultivated; your spontaneous respect, which arises only when you start feeling that you are part of God, that you are divine.

Remember, ego is comparative — it always compares itself with others — and the self is non-comparative. When you know yourself it is neither inferior nor superior in comparison to anybody, it is simply itself. But the ego is comparative. And remember, if you feel superior to somebody, you are bound to feel inferior to somebody else. So the ego is a very tricky phenomenon: on the one hand it makes you feel superior, on the other hand it makes you feel inferior. It keeps you in a double bind, it goes on pulling you apart. It drives you crazy.

On the one hand you know that you are superior to your servant, but what about your boss? You force the servant to surrender to you, and you surrender to your boss. You force your servant or your wife or your children to be slaves to you. And then to your boss? You wag your tail there.

How can you be blissful? Both things are wrong. To make others feel inferior is violent, it is a crime against God; and to make yourself feel inferior before somebody is again a crime against God. When you know the real self, both things disappear. Then you are you, and the other is the other, and there is no comparison — nobody is superior and nobody is inferior.

This is what I call real spiritual communism, but this is possible only when self-knowledge has happened. Karl Marx or Friedrich Engels, Joseph Stalin or Mao Zedong, these are not the real communists. They live in the ego. The real communists are Gautam Buddha, Jesus, Lao Tzu — nobody knows them as communists but they are real communists, because if you understand their vision, all comparison disappears. And when there is no comparison, there is communism. Equality is possible only when comparison disappears from the world.

Not knowing yourself, you are almost fast asleep; not knowing yourself, you are like a drunkard who asks others, “Where is my home?” The drunkard sometimes even asks, “Can you tell me, sir, who I am?”

Once a drunkard came back to the bartender and asked him, “Have you seen my friend? Has he been here?”

The bartender said, “Yes, just a few minutes before, he was here.”

And the drunkard asked, “Will you be kind enough to tell me, was I with him too?”

There was a drunk standing at a bar one day. He turned to the man on his right and said, “Did you pour beer in my pocket?”

“I certainly did not,” said the man.

Then the drunk turned to the man on his left and said, “Did you pour beer in my pocket?”

The man said, “I most certainly did not pour beer in your pocket.”

The drunk said, “Just like I thought — an inside job.”


From The Dhammapada, the Way of the Buddha, V. 2, Chapter Eight

The Dhammapada

Copyright© OSHO International Foundation

An MP3 audio file of this discourse can be downloaded from Osho.com, or you can read the entire book online at the Osho Library.

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The Bell Tolls for Thee – Osho

What is the ego?

It is a false entity. It is not. There are two great falsities in the world. One is ego and another is death. These two things exist not. And they are not separate, they are joined together. They are aspects of the same coin; two aspects of the same untruth.

If you have ego, then you will be afraid of death, then death is bound to come – because you are clinging to a falsity. How long can you cling to it? Sooner or later you will have to see that it is false.

You can go on avoiding; you can go on delaying and postponing, but not for ever.

Death is the death of the ego. And ego is not in the first place. So a person who becomes free of ego also becomes free of death. Then there is nobody to die!

It is like: a great wave in the ocean believes that “I am, and I am separate from the ocean.” This is ego. Soon the great wave will disappear in the ocean. Then it will feel death. And even while it is there, high in the sky, dancing the dance, whispering with the winds, having a dialogue with the sun, still the fear will be there, that sooner or later it is going to die. Because other waves are dying! And just a moment before, they were alive.

You are living amongst people who are dying, continuously somebody or other dies. The bell tolls for thee. Don’t send anybody to ask for whom the bell tolls – it tolls for thee. Whenever somebody dies, it brings home the truth that you are going to die. But why did somebody die? Why in the first place? Because the wave believed itself to be separate from the ocean. If the wave knew that “I am not separate from the ocean,” where is death? That wave becomes a Sufi. That wave becomes a Buddha, the wave who knows that “I am not separate from the ocean. I am the ocean. So hum – I am that;” then there is no death.

Ego is a false entity. It is needed – just as your name is needed. Your name is a false entity.

Everybody is born without any name. But we have to give a certain name, otherwise it will be impossible in the world – how to call him? How to address him? How to send a letter to him? How to give money or borrow money from him? How to drag him to the court? It will be so impossible if everybody is nameless. It will be sheer chaos! This world cannot exist; it will be a totally different kind of world.

And it will be very difficult to remember who your wife is and who your son is and who your husband is. All will be chaos. Names are needed, labels are needed. But they are false. They are utilitarian, but they are not true. When you give the name to the child, you are giving a name to the nameless. And exactly like that is the ego. The name is for others to use and the ego is for yourself to use. You will have to say ‘I’. You will have to say, “I am thirsty.” The reality is only that there is thirst. But if you go and suddenly declare in the marketplace, “There is thirst!” then it will be very difficult – who is thirsty? Where is it? You have to say, “I am thirsty.” That “I am thirsty” is just utilitarian. In reality all that is, is thirst, hunger, love. These things are true, but the ‘I’ is just needed to manage your life.

If you understand this, there is no problem. You can use it and you can know that you are not separate from existence. I also use the word ’I’ – Buddha uses it, Krishna uses it, Christ uses it. It cannot be dropped. There is no need to drop it! You just have to see the point that the word is utilitarian – useful in day-to-day life, but has no existential status.

Don’t be befooled by the word. Don’t start believing that the word is the reality. But it happens. I have heard Charles de Gaulle was a very egoistic person, as politicians are bound to be. A story is told about him:

One winter night upon retiring, his wife shivered and said, “My God, it’s cold.”

Yielding slightly, de Gaulle replied, “In bed, Madam, you may call me Charles.”

People can start believing. Then you have given the word a reality which is not there, which does not belong there.

The MacGregors of Scotland were all big, husky, country men. They knew the wilds of their own surroundings, but had little use for the finer aspects of civilization. When a problem arose with respect to their land rights, the head of the clan – known as The MacGregor – sent to the university in Edinburgh for an attorney.

The city lawyer was pale and slight next to the clansmen, but he had the expertise they needed, so he was generously thanked and invited to share the MacGregor’ gargantuan dinner. Entering the huge dining hall, the lawyer was pointed to one end of the table overflowing with food.

The lawyer, not wanting to usurp the master’s place at the head of the table, said, “Oh, sir, I could not sit in the chair of The MacGregor himself.”

“You may sit,” The MacGregor assured him, “since it is he himself who invites you to do so.”

Looking around at the tall sons beside him, the lawyer backed off further. “Only The MacGregor should sit at the head of the table,” he said.

The MacGregor laughed heartily and clapped the attorney on the back. “Sit where you are told, you foolish little man, for wherever The MacGregor sits, THERE is the head of the table.”

The ego is just a belief in your specialness, in your personality, a belief in yourself – and the belief is utterly false, not based in truth at all.

I am not. You are not. Only God is. Know it, and then you can use the word. But then it is just a word. It does not denote any reality. Only one is. Many are appearances. Many are false. Falseness consists of many and multiplicity. Truth consists of one.


From The Perfect Master, V.2, Chapter Eight

Copyright© OSHO International Foundation

An MP3 audio file of this discourse can be downloaded from Osho.com, or you can read the entire book online at the Osho Library.

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The Beauty of Egoless Moments – Osho

You are teaching us to believe in nothing. But why should I try to drop my ego without believing that life is better without an ego? Before I drop my ego I cannot know how life is without an ego. Therefore I have to believe that life is better without an ego before I try to drop the ego. But I can’t believe it, because I suppose that life without an ego is life without a will of my own. The idea of giving up my own will is horrible to me. I cannot imagine that anybody would do this of his own free will, because my ego is all I have. Osho, Please talk to us about this. 

Bernd Schweiger. It happens all the time that I say one thing and you understand something else for the simple reason that I am talking from a state of no-mind and you are listening through the mind. It is as if a person who is awake is talking to a person who is fast asleep. Yes, even in sleep you can hear a few words, fragments of words, maybe even fragments of sentences. But you will not be able to understand exactly what is being said to you. You are bound to misunderstand.

That is one of the problems faced by all those people who have experienced something of the beyond. The beyond cannot he put into words. It remains inexpressible for the simple reason that you can understand only that which you have experienced.

I am not saying drop the ego; that is impossible. Even if you want to drop it you cannot drop it. It is impossible because the ego does not exist. How can you drop something which does not exist? You can only drop something which exists in the first place. But the ego is a false phenomenon; nobody has ever been able to drop it.

Then what do I mean when I say learn the secret of being egoless? I do not mean that you have to drop it but that you have to understand it. There is no question of belief.

Now the whole question has come out of your misunderstanding, but you are making it look so logical that anybody looking at your question will think, “Of course, how can you drop the ego without believing that life will be better without the ego?” And I say don’t believe in anything. I repeat again: don’t believe in anything. I am not saying that you should believe me and become egoless, I am simply saying – sharing my own experience – that the more I tried to understand the ego the more I became aware that it is non-existential. When I became fully conscious of it, it disappeared.

It disappears of its own accord. You don’t drop it. If you drop it, then who will drop it? Then the ego will survive; then it will be the ego dropping another ego, dropping the gross ego. And the gross is not dangerous; the subtle ego is more dangerous. Then you will become a pious egoist, you will become a humble egoist, you will become a spiritual egoist. Then you will become an “egoless” egoist. And that is getting into more trouble because that is getting into more contradictions.

All that I am saying to you is very simple. Try to understand what this ego is. Just look at it, watch it. Become aware of all its subtle ways, how it comes in. And there are moments when it is not – watch those moments also. Even you have those moments when it is not. It needs constant pedaling – it is like a bicycle. If you go on pedaling it, it can go on moving; if you stop pedaling it… how far can it go without pedaling? Maybe a few feet, maybe one furlong, two furlongs, but then it is bound to fall.

The ego needs to be constantly nourished. There are moments when you forget to nourish it and it disappears. For example, seeing a beautiful sunset it disappears because the sunset possesses you so totally. It is so beautiful, it is so extraordinary, so exquisite, it fills you with wonder and awe; for a moment you forget completely that you are, only the sunset is, and the clouds and the luminous colors on the clouds, and the birds coming back to their nests, and the day ending, entering into a silent night; as the sun starts disappearing below the horizon, something in you stops.

It happened to Ramakrishna – his first experience of egolessness. He was only thirteen. He was coming home from the field – he was a poor man’s son and he lived in a small village. He was passing by the lake. A silent evening, the sunset, and there was nobody on the lake; his coming to the lake… There was a big crowd of white cranes sitting by the side of the lake. They suddenly flew up – it was so sudden, as if out of nowhere – and against the backdrop of a black cloud which was shining like velvet against the setting sun, those white cranes in a row flashed before his eyes like lightning. It was a moment, a tremendous moment!

He fell on the ground. He was so possessed by the beauty of it he became unconscious. He had to be carried home by others. After one hour somebody found him Lying down there on the shore of the lake. It took six hours for him to be brought back to consciousness. When he came back to consciousness he started crying. And they asked, “Why are you crying? You should be happy – you have come back to consciousness.”

He said, “No, I am crying because I have come back to the ordinary world. I was not unconscious. I had moved to a higher plane of consciousness, I had moved to some new plane. I don’t know what it was, but I was not there and still there was great joy. I have never tasted such joy!”

That was his first experience, his first satori: a moment of egolessness. Then he started seeking and searching for it deliberately, consciously. He would go to the lake again and again in the morning, in the evening, in the night, and it started happening again and again more easily.

It happens to you too; it has happened to everybody. God comes to everybody. You may have forgotten him; he has not forgotten you – he cannot. It is not only that you are searching for him; he is also groping for you, he is also searching for you.

I am not telling you to drop the ego, I am telling you to understand it, to see it. Seeing it, it disappears. And see and become aware of those moments when it disappears of its own accord. Making love, it disappears. In a deep orgasm, it disappears; you melt, merge into existence. The wave again becomes the ocean; it is no more separate, it falls back into the ocean. It is only for a moment. Remain conscious of that moment and you will see the beauty of it. Once you have seen the beauty of egoless moments, then it will be easy for you to see the ugliness of the ego, the misery of the ego.

You need not believe me; I am simply inviting you to experience it. I am utterly against belief – belief is the cause of destroying religion on the earth. It is belief that has made religions false and pseudo.

Now listen to your question again, Schweiger.

You say: You are teaching us to believe in nothing.

Absolutely true.

But why should I try to drop my ego…?

Who has said this? You must have heard it, that I can understand, but I have not said it.

A young man went to a sex therapist for advice about his staying power. “Ah yes, ” said the therapist. “Premature ejaculation is quite a common problem for many young men. It is entirely due to over-eagerness and there is a definite cure.”

“What is that, doctor?” asked the young man.

“Next time you go to bed with a woman, imagine that you are about to eat a delicious meal in a gourmet restaurant. Imagine every aspect of the meal, from the soup to the coffee.

“Begin with the soup… imagine it steaming in the bowl… taste each spoonful. Next, order the wine, perhaps a rose’. Smell the bouquet of the wine, look at it sparkling with each sip. Imagine the main course… perhaps a mushroom-garnished steak with a baked potato, sour cream and chives and a fresh green salad. Eat it very slowly, tasting each bite. After the main course order dessert… perhaps a chocolate mousse or a pecan pie with whipped cream. And then… you are ready for your coffee… Brazilian, French roast, or maybe cappuccino. Then you can relax and feel the contentment of having enjoyed a very satisfying meal.

“By the time you have enjoyed such a banquet in your imagination your problem will disappear. You will have such an orgasm, such fulfillment – together! ”

The young man thanked the therapist and went away, delighted. That same evening in bed with his woman friend, they began making love. So he started to fantasize. He pictured the restaurant in his mind, sat down at the table, and called out, “Hey, waiter, we’ll have the tomato soup… and a cup of coffee!”

You may have heard it, but I have not said it!

You say: Before I drop my ego I cannot know how life is without an ego.

You have known it many times already. Nobody is so poor… I have never come across a man who has never known a few moments of it. Just try to remember. Or now, if you cannot remember, just try every day to watch. Soon you will be able to see a few moments which are without ego. Even this moment, if you are not too concerned about your question, this moment can be without ego; it is so for everybody else. It may not be for you because you will be so disturbed that I am destroying such a logical question of yours, that I am avoiding the real question, that I am trying to evade it, that I am not being logical. I never am, because what I am trying to indicate is basically supra-logical.

If you just try to listen to me as if this were not Schweiger’s question but some other fool’s – some idiot has asked this, not you – then even this moment can be of tremendous beauty and you can experience egolessness. And then you can compare. Only your own experience and comparison will make it possible for you to decide. Who am I to decide for you? I never decide for anybody else.


From Tao: the Golden Gate, V.1, Chapter Eight

Tao-The Golden Gate, V.1

Copyright© OSHO International Foundation

An MP3 audio file of this discourse can be downloaded from Osho.com, or you can read the entire book online at the Osho Library.

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Discrimination – Annamalai Swami

Question:  ‘All is one’ may be the truth, but one can’t treat everything in the world equally. In daily life one still has to discriminate and make distinctions.

Annamalai Swami:  I once went for a walk near the housing board buildings [government flats that were built in the 1970s about 300 metres from Annamalai Swami’s ashram]. There was a sewage trench on one side of the building. I could smell the stench of the sewage even though I was a long way away. I stayed away from it because I didn’t want to be nauseated by the bad smell.

In circumstances such as these you don’t say, ‘All is one. Everything is the Self,’ and paddle through the sewage. The knowledge ‘everything is the Self’ may be there, but that doesn’t mean that you have to put yourself in dangerous or health-threatening places.

When you have become one with the Self, a great power takes you over and runs your life for you. It looks after your body; it puts you in the right place at the right time; it makes you say the right things to the people you meet. This power takes you over so completely, you no longer have any ability to decide or discriminate. The ego that thinks, ‘I must do this,’ or ‘I should not do that,’ is no longer there. The Self simply animates you and makes you do all the things that need to be done.

If you are not in this state, then use your discrimination wisely. You can choose to sit in a flower garden and enjoy the scent of the blooms, or you can go down to that trench I told you about and make yourself sick by inhaling the fumes there.

So, while you still have an ego, and the power of discrimination that goes with it, use it to inhale the fragrance that you find in the presence of an enlightened being. If you spend time in the proximity of a jnani, his peace will sink into you to such an extent that you will find yourself in a state of peace. If, instead, you choose to spend all your time with people whose minds are always full of bad thoughts, their mental energy and vibrations will start to seep into you.

I tell you regularly, ‘You are the Self. Everything is the Self.’ If this is not your experience, pretending that ‘all is one’ may get you into trouble. Advaita may be the ultimate experience, but it is not something that mind that still sees distinctions can practice.

Electricity is a useful form of energy, but it is also potentially harmful. Use it wisely. Don’t put your finger in the socket, thinking ‘all is one’. You need a body that is in good working order in order to realise the Self. Realising the Self is the only useful and worthy activity in this life, so keep the body in good repair till that goal is achieved. Afterwards, the Self will take care of everything and you won’t have to worry about anything anymore. In fact, you won’t be able to because the mind that previously did the worrying, the choosing and the discriminating will no longer be there. In that state you won’t need it and you won’t miss it.

-Annamalai Swami

From Final Talks, pages 27-28

A Crystallized Self vs. A Big Strong Ego – Osho

What is the difference between a crystallized self and a big, strong ego?

The look alike, but they are as different as two things can be. Not only different, they are diametrically opposite. The crystallized self is not a self at all. It is called a crystallized “self,” but it is not a self at all. And the big, strong ego is neither big nor strong. It is very hollow; how can it be strong? It is very empty; how can it be strong? And how can it be big? It is neither big nor strong, but it has the selfhood in it, the “I-amness,” the feeling that “I am.”

The ego is the self. The real self is not a self at all. We develop the ego just to hide the fact that we don’t know who we are. It is very hard to see that we are so ignorant about ourselves, that we don’t know. To hide this ignorance, we create the ego. Ego is a deception. It is a deception that you are giving to yourself. It is really difficult to live without self-knowing, so we create a false ego. It gives a little consolation. One starts feeling that one knows who one is.

It simply hides ignorance; that’s why all the religions insist on dropping the ego. When you drop the ego and you face your inner being, the vastness of it is such that you cannot define it as “I am.” The vastness is so much that it cannot be contained within any concept. You cannot call it “I.” It is all; how can you call it “I”? The real self, the real inner being, is God himself; it is all. But one has to face it. In the beginning, when you face it, it looks as if it is nothing. That is the fear.

The all looks like nothing in the first encounter. If you get in tune with it, by and by the negativity disappears and you start feeling the positive existence of it. Then it becomes your soul call it “God,” ”being,” or any word that you want to choose – call it “enlightenment,” “awareness.” But one thing is certain: you are not there. Something is there – tremendously vital, infinite – but you are not there.

This will look like a paradox: when you come to know yourself you are not there; when you don’t know yourself you are there. You exist only in your ignorance. When knowledge has happened – when KNOWING has happened – you disappear. You disappear like darkness – just as when the sun rises the darkness disappears. You disappear like darkness when awareness arises. The awareness does not belong to you; it has nothing to do with you. In fact you are the barrier for it. It is because of you that it is not arising.

People come to me and they say, “Osho, I would like to become enlightened.” I say to them, “It is very difficult, it is impossible. I cannot help you.” They say, “Why? Why can’t you help?” I say, “From the very beginning you are putting such a condition: you say, ‘I want to become enlightened.’ This ‘I’ is the barrier. This ’I’ is not allowing you to know your enlightenment – which is already there.

The ‘I’ never becomes enlightened; the ‘I’ is the unenlightened state. The ‘I’ is the darkness.” Enlightenment is possible, but it will be possible only when you are ready to lose yourself. That is the meaning of Jesus’ saying when he says, “If you lose, you will gain. If you don’t lose, you will lose.” In losing is the gain. In forgetting is the remembrance. In dissolving, you become crystallized.

The crystallized self is a no-self, it is all; and the big, strong ego is very tiny, not big at all. The tiniest thing in the world is the ego, and the hollowest thing in the world is the ego, and the weakest thing in the world is the ego; because it is the falsest thing possible. It exists not; it is a pretension.


From Ecstasy: The Forgotten Language, Chapter 4  

Copyright© OSHO International Foundation

Here you can listen to the discourse excerpt A Crystalized Self and Big Strong Ego.

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The Clouds of Ego – Osho

 Do I have to forget myself to lose my ego?

Eva, it is not a question of forgetting yourself—on the contrary, it is a question of remembering yourself.

What is the ego? Ego exists because you have forgotten yourself, because you don’t remember who you are. And it is very difficult to live without SOME idea of who you are. Not knowing the reality of your being, you have to create a false substitute.

What is the ego? Ego is the false substitute that you have created for the self. It is not your self, but it is very difficult to live without a self—it will be almost impossible to live without a self, some kind of self is needed, is a must; otherwise, how will you keep yourself together?

You will start falling apart.

Even if the center is false, it helps you. Even a false center keeps you at least somehow together. You have forgotten yourself—hence you need the ego.

If you remember yourself, there will be no need for the ego.

You ask, Eva: Do I have to forget myself to lose my ego?

Ego is not anything real that you have to lose or you can lose—you don’t have it in the first place. It is just an idea, a shadow; it is non-existential. It is like your name: when you were born, you did not come with a name. Then somebody—your mother, your father, your family—started calling you ‘Eva’. Some name is needed to call you by; it is utilitarian.

Your name is the first name that was ever given. When Haavva was created because man was alone, Adam was alone, and was very much depressed because of the loneliness … the whole existence and Adam was lonely. He asked God to give him a companion, and God created a woman. God asked Adam, ”What are you going to call her? What name would you like to give her?” And he was so ecstatic that now at least there was somebody with whom he could be friendly, with whom he could be loving, with whom he could talk, communicate, with whom there was a possibility of relating. He was no more alone!—he was so ecstatic that he said he would call this creature ‘Eve’, ‘Eva’, ‘Haavva’.

“Why?” God asked.

And Adam said, “Because Eve, Eva or Haavva means life—she is my life. Without her I was almost dead.”

But when Eve was created, there was no name. A name was given to her because Adam would need it. Sometimes he would have to call her: “Where are you?” Sometimes the name would be needed–but a name is a false thing, it is just a label. We give names to people just to make it helpful to commune, to relate, to call, to address. But names are not real! You need not drop them, and even if you drop them nothing will be dropped.

You can drop this name ‘Eva’—nothing will be dropped. Simply an idea! And you are no more attached to it. In exactly the same way: the name is for others to call you by, but you need something to call yourself by too—that’s what the ego is: I.

If you want to say something about yourself, you need some word—that word is ‘I’. Names are for others to call you by; the ego is for you to call yourself by, to address yourself. It is also false, it does not exist. You need not lose it. All that is needed is to understand it—why this ‘I’ has become so important, why it has become so significant, so central, so substantial. A shadow has become so substantial—why? Because you don’t know your real self.

When Jesus says ‘I’, he does not mean the same ‘I’. When he says, “I am the gate, I am the truth, I am the way,” his ‘I’ does not connote any ego. When Krishna says to Arjuna, “Come to my feet, surrender to me,” his ‘me’ is not the same as your ‘me’.

Buddha used to say to his disciples, “Be a light unto yourself.” A great King, Prasenjit, had come to see him. And he saw many sannyasins coming and bowing to Buddha, and saying:

Buddham Sharanam Gachchhami—I go to the feet of the Buddha.

Sangham Sharanam Gachchhami—I go to the feet of the community of the Buddhas.

Dhammam Sharanam Gachchhami—I go to the feet of the ultimate law, the ultimate law that supports existence, that runs like a thread and makes the existence a garland.”

Prasenjit was a man of logic, well-educated, sophisticated. He was a little bit puzzled. He asked Buddha, “Excuse me, Sir, but you say to people, ‘Be a light unto yourself,’ and then they surrender to you, and they touch your feet—you don’t prevent them. This is illogical, this is contradictory. If you say ‘Be a light unto yourself,’ then there is no need to surrender to anybody else. Then why should they touch your feet?”

And Buddha laughed and he said, “They are not my feet, and they are not surrendering to

ME—because there is nobody inside me as the ego who can claim. I am just an excuse—they are surrendering. It is not a surrender to me; it is simply a surrender—I am just an excuse.

Because they are not yet capable of surrendering without any excuse, I allow them to use me as an excuse. But there is nobody to whom they are surrendering.”

That’s exactly the meaning of a Buddha: one who is not; in the sense of an ego, one who is not. But as far as the supreme self is concerned, the ultimate self is concerned, he is and you are not. The ego is a false idea, and it is needed because the real self is unknown.

Eva, you need not forget yourself to lose the ego—in fact, that’s how you have gained it.

You need to remember yourself, not to forget but to remember. You have to become more aware and alert, you have to wake up. You have to see who you are, not what has been told to you—that you are a woman, that you are a man, that you are a Hindu, a Christian, a white or a black—not what has been told to you.

You will have to go inside your being to the very innermost core and see who you are. In that very seeing, in that very remembering, the ego disappears. When the light comes, the darkness disappears; when the real self is remembered, the unreal is no more needed. And it is not that you have to drop it: it is simply not found.

But we live in the ego, and in every possible way we go on finding new props for it. In every act we go on nourishing it—even in those actions of which you are not the doer you go on claiming that you are doing it. People say, “I am breathing.” Just look at the absurdity of it.

If you are breathing then you will never die; death will come and stand in front of you and you will go on breathing. You may not oblige death; you may say, “I am not going to stop breathing.”

You are not breathing; breathing is not your activity, it is not your doing—it IS happening.

You cannot breathe. If it stops, it stops. If the next breath is not going to come back, you will not be able to do anything. Breathing is a happening, but man has made it, or at least believes it to be, a doing.

You say, “I love.” Even the expression ‘love-making’ is utter nonsense. You cannot love; you cannot not love. Love is a happening, not a doing. What can you do about love? Either it happens or it doesn’t happen. If you try, then it will be something false, then it will not be love at all—then it will only be acting.

If you are ordered to love a woman or a man, what are you going to do? You will go through empty gestures: you will hug and you will kiss and you will go through all the movements, and with no love at all. The whole thing will be mechanical! And that’s what is going on, what goes on around the world. The wife has to love the husband, the husband has to love the wife—it is a kind of duty to be fulfilled. It becomes a performance, acting. It is not real, hence it is not satisfying, it brings no contentment, no fulfillment.

The ego is very cunning in that way: it goes on finding supports, props, new pastures to feed itself on. If you fail, you blame circumstances. If you succeed, it is you who have succeeded. If you fail it is fate, kismet; if you fail it is the society, the ugly society. If you fail, it is the cunning people, the cunning competitors. But if you succeed, you succeed.

A great Sufi story:

Mulla Nasruddin took his disciples to an exhibition. Many things were going on at the exhibition. At one place people were staking much money and trying to shoot arrows to reach a certain target. Mulla gathered his disciples and he said, “Come, and I will show you something.” That is the Sufi way of teaching the disciples. He took the bow and the arrow—a great crowd gathered: “A Sufi Master with his disciples—something is going on!” People were very silently watching. With great show, Mulla shot the arrow … it fell very short, it never reached the target. The crowd started laughing. Mulla said, “Stop! Don’t be foolish.” He turned to his disciples and said, “Look, this is what happens when you live with an inferiority complex. This is how the person who suffers from an inferiority complex will act—he will never reach the target; he will fall short. His whole heart is not in it.” The crowd became silent: “Yes, there is a lesson in it.”

Next arrow … and it simply went far ahead, it left the target behind. That was also a failure; the crowd started laughing again. And Mulla said, “Be silent! You don’t understand these secrets.” He turned to his disciples and said, “Look, this is how a man who thinks himself very superior behaves. He will never reach the target. He runs so fast that he will bypass the goal, and he will not stop at the goal. He is too confident. He is also unbalanced.”

The crowd again became silent: “Yes, there is a lesson.”

And Mulla tried the third time … and the arrow went directly into the target. Now the crowd was silent and waiting for what Mulla was going to teach to his disciples.

He went to the owner and demanded the money. The owner said, “Why?”

He said, “This is me! The first was the arrow of a man who suffers from an inferiority complex; the second the arrow of the man who suffers from a superiority complex — and this is Mulla Nasruddin’s arrow. Where is the money?”

This is what we go on doing. In each situation, watch. When you fail, it is God, it is fate, it is society, circumstances … a thousand and one names. But the simple phenomenon is that you don’t want to take the responsibility because it hurts the ego. But when you succeed, it is always you—it is never God, never fate, never circumstances, never your cunning strategies, no. It is simply you, your talents, your genius, your intelligence. It is always you when you succeed.

Watch the ego, and don’t feed it. It dies if you don’t feed it. If you stop feeding it, it starves to death.

Mrs. Cochrane was standing beside the coffin of her dead husband. Their son stood at her elbow. The mourners, one by one, passed in review.

“He is feeling no pain now,” said Mrs. Croy. “What did he die of?”

“Poor fella,” said Mrs. Cochrane. “He died of the gonorrhea.”

Another woman gazed at the corpse. “He is well out of it now,” she said. “He has got a smile of serenity on his face. What did he die from?”

“He died of the gonorrhea!” said the widow.

Suddenly, the son pulled his mother aside. “Mom,” he said, “that’s a terrible thing to say about Pop. He did not die of gonorrhea—he died of diarrhea!”

“I know that,” said Mrs. Cochrane, “but I would rather have them thinking he died like a sport — instead of the shit that he was!”

The ego is constantly there, in every situation—it will not miss any situation to feed itself, to strengthen itself. Stop feeding the ego—that is the first thing to do.

And the second thing is: become more aware. Walking, walk with awareness; listening,  listen with total awareness—not in a kind of sleep, not so-so, not lukewarm. Talking, talk with awareness. Whatsoever you are doing, let your whole life be coloured by awareness. And slowly, slowly that awareness will bring you a vision of your real self.

So this is a double attack on the ego. First, don’t feed it; second, become more aware—so the ego disappears by starvation and the self appears by being aware. And once the clouds of ego are no more there, the self rises like a sun. And that self has nothing to do with your ‘I’. Still the word will be used. I use it, Jesus uses it, Buddha uses it—it has to be used, but now it has a totally different meaning. On the lips of a Buddha or a Krishna or a Christ it has a totally different connotation.

When the being is transformed, everything is transformed—even the language that is uttered by a Buddha has a totally different meaning. His words can’t have the same meaning. It is impossible! Because now a new light has happened, and in that new light everything becomes new.

You live in darkness, you stumble in darkness, you grope in darkness. The man of awareness lives in light. He never stumbles, he never gropes. He moves with grace, he has a totally different quality of being, life, love.

Do two things, Eva: first, don’t feed the ego any more—enough is enough—and second, become more aware. This is a double attack, from two sides. It always succeeds; it has never failed.


From The Fish in the Sea Is Not Thirsty, Chapter Two

Copyright© OSHO International Foundation

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